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Forgiving My Father

I’d like to forgive you Father,
but I don’t know your heart.
Your face,
is it a mirror image of mine?

I’d like to forgive you Father,
but I find your absence a fire
that your face might be able to extinguish.

I’d like to forgive you Father,
but my last name isn’t the same as yours.
like it’s supposed to be.
You rejected me, Dad,
but can I sympathize with your ignorance
For all the birthdays
you didn’t send me a card,
for the Christmases
when I’d wake up,
and you weren’t sitting by the tree waiting for me
I can’t forgive you.
What about the summer nights
where prospects of you began to fade?
Fade like you did seventeen years ago.
Out of my life.

I’d like to forgive you, Father,
but I don’t know you.
And for that,
I hate you.

-Justin Morris

The above poem is excerpted from Reading, Writing, and Rising Up , by Linda Christensen. For information on ordering this and other books, see page 55. For more information on forgiveness poems, see Tracy Wagner’s piece, “Forgive and Remember,” on page 38.

Thanks to Monica Urbanic for her assistance with the art direction
of this page.